(OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis

From: OPE-L Administrator (ope-admin@ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 08:35:01 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jur Bendien" <bendien88@lycos.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 12:04 PM
Subject: Re: (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis

> Hi Jerry,
> I wrote previously:
> ...use-value and exchange-value are mutually exclusive, even although
> they presuppose each other, and to mediate this
> contradiction, practically requires a subject-object (ontological)
> and a a means-ends (teleological) inversion. This is regrettably not
> recognised by Istvan Meszaros, who therefore proposed a theory of
> which, however insightful it may be, makes it impossible to understand
> how alienation can be transcended. If the inversions which really
> occur are
> theorised correctly in a dialectical way, then it is also not possible
> to understand what must be revolutionised to enable human progress.
> I was being a bit hasty and unfair to Istvan Meszaros himself, whose
> intellectual contributions to Marxian thought are, in my opinion,
> really
> greater significance than those of Gyorgy Lukacs. I think that
> Meszaros, Heller, Mandel and Ollman were correct in their view that
> neither Marx nor Lenin ever rescinded the validity of the concept of
> human alienation (for
> see LCW Vol. 38, p. 29-30) and that Althusser's distinction between
> the "young" and the "mature" Marx does no justice to the real
> intellectual
evolution of
> Marx's thought.
> But, typically (1) the Marxists underestimated or downplayed the
> possibilities and potentials of capitalist development to overcome
> alienation, at least partially, (2) Marxists viewed alienation only
statically as
> a human condition - often ignoring that each new phase of capitalist
> development abolished some old forms of alienation, and introduced
> some
> forms of alienation, (3) particularly in the "hippy era" of the 1960s
> and 1970s, the Marxian concept of alienation was confused with the
> romantic petit-bourgeois concepts of alienation (such as developed by
> Rousseau) and Durkheimian humanistic concepts of "anomie". This often
> results in a Proudhonist radicalism masquerading as a "Marxism" which
> might have little to do with the realities of workingclass life.
> If, as Marx notes himself (he was in no doubt about a progressive
> content
in capitalist
> development, compared to other forms of society) , market economy
dissolves pre-capitalist relations, develops the productive forces
> of human labor, and enormously expands the connections between people
globally, then capitalism not only combines (a) both human progress with
human regression, but also (b) both alienation and the overcoming of
> If therefore market economy is viewed only as "a source of
> alienation",
> never as a source of increased human freedom and better human
> development, then we are likely to make a double error: (1) we conjure
> up an image of "monolithic human oppression" by capitalism, and (2) we
> tend implicitly to reduce the totality of human society, and
> individual experience of it, to economic, commercial, or market
> relations only (which is a reification).
> In reality, as Alvater has emphasised, what is popularly called "the
> could not even exist and function without a vast natural and cultural
> substructure. I might add it also could not even exist and function
> an enormous amount of voluntary (unpaid) work, both inside and outside
> the home. For example, "New Internationalist" magazine some years ago
estimated from World
> Bank and ILO reports that the total paid work done by Germans in West
> Germany in 1987 amounted to 55,000 million hours a year, creating a
> income of US$335 billion, while formally unpaid housework alone
> totaled 53,000 million hours a year; US and Dutch statistics show that
> a large amount of voluntary work for others is also done outside the
> home.
> This insight is important I think for four reasons.
> - If it is not understood what is progressive or revolutionising in
> capitalist development (in contrast to its reactionary aspects), then
> a "Proudhonist" radical stance just contributes to nihilistic cultures
> and ideologies;
> - the potential and possibility for non-alienating cultures and forms
> of association (including not just countercultures and alternative
> cultures, but also a conscious reframing of the dominant culture) is
> denied;
> - the problems of how people could emancipate themselves, how they
> could
> inspired to form socialist parties and how they could replace the
> social order with a more just, egalitarian and free social order
> becomes almost impossible to solve;
> - a moral-ideological view of "human nature in general" cast in terms
> of purely selfish and self-interested economic actors is implicitly
> adopted, instead of an empirically-based and scientifically-based view
> of human nature, developed from the facts of experience about how
> people really are and how they really have been.
> If anything, what is central to Marx's interpretation of capitalism is
> the
inverted, self-contradictory or self-negating way in which progress
occurs, something which is reflected also in the consciousness and
behaviour of individuals.
> Regards
> Jurriaan
> ____________________________________________________________
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